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Air NZ’s new design may make middle seats popular

April 10, 2017 Headline News 1 Comment Email Email

Who wants to sit in the middle seat? On single-aisle aircraft configured 3×3, most passengers opt for window or aisle – but that may be about the change with a surprising new initiative from Air New Zealand.

The reason: the middle seat in economy class will be wider than its aisle and window counterparts on either side.

In an era when airlines are trying to squeeze more passengers into economy while the passengers themselves are growing larger – on average, anyway – Air New Zealand’s decision to swim against the tide is welcome. Trans-Tasman passengers will certainly benefit.

The airline revealed its new Economy seat design at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg. The news seats will be introduced on the airline’s Airbus A320/A321neo (new engine option) fleet.

The airline has worked with UK aerospace seating company Acro Aircraft Seating on the slim-line design, a key feature of which is wider seats. The window and aisle seats will be one centimetre wider than those on the airline’s current international Airbus fleet, with the middle seat three centimetres wider ensuring a better sense of personal space across the row.

One centimetre may not seem much, but a little extra space can make a lot of difference on a lengthy flight. And three centimetres – 1.2 inches in the old measure – most definitely makes a difference.

The design also features a new seat cover developed in conjunction with New Zealand company Flight Interiors which customer testing has demonstrated delivers superior comfort levels for longer.

Air New Zealand general manager customer experience Anita Hawthorne said  the design of the new seat was customer-led, with the airline and Acro each keen to address key areas of customer feedback and further improve the inflight experience.

“The slightly wider middle seat helps balance out the fact that window and aisle seat customers enjoy a greater sense of space. We currently have many customers who state a preference for window or aisle seats and it’s possible the new design may see the middle seat get a boost in popularity.

“We have a long history of innovating and of thinking outside the box for solutions so we were fortunate to work alongside a like-minded partner such as Acro. We believe what we’ve co-designed is not only practical from an operational perspective but importantly a more comfortable and spacious experience for our customers,” Hawthorne said.

Acro chief executive Chris Brady said the seat attracted plenty of attention at the Aircraft Interiors Expo when it was unveiled last week.

“To reveal the new seat at this event, which showcases all the very latest innovations, technologies and products for cabin interiors was hugely exciting and piqued a lot of interest in the new product from other airlines and the wider industry alike,” Brady said.

Air New Zealand has 13 Airbus A320neo aircraft on order to replace its current A320 fleet. The airline will receive a combination of A320neo and A321neo.

Edited by Peter Needham

Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. Owen Olsen says:

    Window and aisle seat…greater sense of space? Are you kidding? Sense doesn’t mean comfort, And have you noticed the thinner armrests? What’s that going to do for comfort? One thing is for sure the middle seat now will definitely attract the larger person. Makes you think twice about sitting at the the window.


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